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Users have difficulties with drop-down, fly out and rollover menus

Drop-down, fly out and rollover menus are getting more and more common on websites. But a study from UIE shows that users have difficulties using these menus:

- The menus doesn't help users decide where to click because critical information is hidden
- Users expect to be taken to a new page when they click a menu item, and stops to re-evaluate the screen, when more information is suddenly available
- Most of these menus require users to use awkward movements to make simple choices

Some of these difficulties are due to the fact that users decide what they are going to click before they move their mouse. They don't "browse" the menus first.

Their studies also showed that sites with visible sub categories did a better job of getting users to the content they sought and to content they didn't previously know existed.

UIE's advice is that if you are going to use these kinds of menus, do some testing to ensure they are helping your users.

Links:

  • The article Users Decide First; Move Second Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 21, 2002

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